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Base built for Narec marine energy test facility

A dry dock is being constructed in the North of England as part of a new marine energy test facility

By Isabella Kaminski

Shepherd Construction is building a base for the National Renewable Energy Centre’s (Narec) Nautilus marine renewable energy test centre in Blyth in Northumberland.

Shepherd, the project’s main contractor, is using 7000m³ of concrete to create a dry dock for the base, which involves three pours of mass concrete and a series of further pours of reinforced concrete. This stage of the construction programme, due to be completed by the end of June, will create hard standing of the right depth to withstand the rigours of the specialist apparatus that will operate within the test facility. The steel frame of the building will be built afterwards.

Nautilus is the first of three marine and wind test facilities being built by Shepherd Construction after it secured a £30 million contract with Narec. One of these will be a 127 m by 25 m facility for testing new wind turbine blade designs. It will be the largest of its type in the world and will test turbine blades up to 100 m long. The other will be a 72 m by 31 m wind turbine drive train testing facility for the performance and reliability testing of entire wind turbine nacelles up to 15 MW capacity.

Colin Sargeant, Shepherd Construction’s East Division managing director, says: “It is great to see the first main phase of the construction programme underway. The concrete pour is more technical than it sounds and needs to be done in stages, hence why it is being carried out over several weeks. We will begin erecting the 15 m high steel frame of Nautilus in early summer.”

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Other marine energy and hydropower  •  Wave and tidal energy  •  Wind power